The Opulent Lifestyle of America’s Gilded Age Aristocracy

The Biltmore House at dusk, built between 1889 and 1895 in Asheville, NC, by George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt (known as the Commodore.)

The Biltmore House at dusk, built between 1889 and 1895 in Asheville, NC, by George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt (known as the Commodore.)

When the PBS television series America’s Castles was first broadcast in 1994, I was fascinated by not only the grand mansions built during this period, but how the people of America’s aristocracy must have lived, played, and loved.

Ladies at Mrs. Astor's Society Tableaux

Ladies at Mrs. Astor’s Society Tableaux in New York.

Not only were financial and industrial empires being created, but women were beginning to step out on their own and demand equality and justice. The most notable of these efforts was the struggle for women’s right to vote. Though wealthy women were bound by the rigid rules of their class, many used their power and influence to effect social change benefiting both women and children.

The courage of these women served as inspiration for the second struggle for women’s rights in the late 1960s and ’70s. I directly benefited from this second fight for women’s equality, having been the first journalist to seek a paid maternity leave following a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the equal paid medical leave law.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that I write about Gilded Age heroines bold enough to explore who they are and what they can become despite the odds,  and the men who love them enough to encourage their endeavors.

I hope you will enjoy the stories I create, set against the backdrop of one of our country’s most turbulent and exciting periods of change.

 

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